Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Ronnie Shumaker is a legend in the AU for the work he has done with pigeons in the classroom. Here are three competing lofts and the math problem Ronnie has presented to the students.

Mrs. McDonald, Ms. McClelland & Classes,
Listed below are the first birds from each location and distances.
You can determine who won by finding total minutes flown. Release time 7:00 a.m.

Multiply the distance by 1760. Divide distance by minutes to get ypm (yards per minute)

First 3 birds listed for each loft.

Panda Loft Distance 115.510
1768 QUEEN 09:16:29
9163 CAMP 09:16:29
436 NCC 09:16:32

Tiger Loft Distance 116.960
7147 SMRP 09:21:18
9907 LYNCH 09:21:18
140 QUEEN 09:21:24

Teacher Loft Distance 121.995
470 SPO 09:34:34
244 QUEEN 09:34:36
9743 APHI 09:34:39

Let me know who won.

Mr. Shumaker

Friday, September 25, 2009


Excerpt from
Flying the coop, By KATIE KOLT HALL, Staff Writer
The Daily Journal

Pigeons find their way home after being released in the Falls

Saturday morning, hundreds of birds are set to pepper the Borderland sky as they head southward toward their homes near the Twin Cities.

But if their owners have anything to say about it, they won’t be in the Falls long . . . This is the second weekend in a row that the group has used International Falls as its starting point for the race.

The group hires a driver, who will release the gold-band pigeons all at the same time. At that point, bird owners wait for their flock to return home.

According to Paul Rudolph, race secretary for Twin City Concourse, if the birds are released around 9 a.m. in International Falls they should start arriving in homes near the metro area around 3 p.m. That means the average speed of the pigeons is about 50 miles per hour, depending on the wind and weather.

This is a shorter race only for the youngsters, he said, adding that older pigeons can travel up to 600 miles in one day . . . “They’re way smarter than we ever thought of,” Rudolph explained. “The term ‘bird brain’ is actually a compliment. There’s a lot more to them little creatures than we give them credit for.”

The birds have an innate instinct to return to their home coop, which is guided by a natural global positioning system, he said.

“There’s a magnetic force that helps them,” he said.

He also added that, “their eyesight is way better than humans’.”

The pigeon owner’s job, then, comes with training the birds to come back to their coop as quickly as possible. When they are very young, after they start taking short trips on their own, a pigeon owner will take the bird 25-30 miles from the coop and allow them to find their way back, he said. That leads to trips of 100 miles, 200 miles, and up until around 600 miles as a veteran racer.

“As much as the boys don’t want to believe it, the athlete is the bird — not us,” he joked.

Rudolph also noted that there is now technology that can be banded on the bird that will track the exact time when it lands on the home coop, making record keeping easier than in years past.

“It’s a different sport,” he remarked . . . And when Rudolph finally catches sight of one of his pigeons flying into the coop after a long trip, he said, “I still find that as big of a thrill as I ever did.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009



AU Executive Vice President Robert Tomlinson reports that Attorney Gerald Schoelzel took it upon himself to organize the Texas Hill Country Invitational RPC, driving to Austin, Texas to the state capitol securing this club as a 501 (C) 3 organization with a federal ID number. Working with his friends in another Texas based 501 (C) 3 group known as the Raven Star Outdoor Learning Center, both organizations work together on fund raisers for their common good.

The Raven Star Educational group has a theme known as “NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE” providing weekly education on outside subjects such as nature, fish, trees, the stars, and of course, homing pigeons! It’s a win/win situation! Maybe there is a similar group or project in your area to partner with.

Texas Hill Country Invitational RPC is pictured left to right.  Front row:  Elizabeth Bowerman, Blair Brown, Delores Schuman, Robert Tomlinson, Bob McKeag.  Back row:  Bill Miller, Andy Poznecki, Barbara Tomlinson, Kelley Clifford, Harry Rauch, Butch Woods, Stan Pape, Dick Bittner, Gerald Schoelzel, Art Coble, Laura Rauch.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


DEBBY ABE; The News Tribune
Published: 09/22/09 12:05 am

Pigeon racing takes wing among younger crowd

Sean Steen has only to walk to the handsome shed in his backyard to indulge his flock of eager, winged athletes.

The South Tacoma man digs his hand into a plastic bowl of dried maize and yellow and green peas. He whistles and opens his palm, attracting a half dozen pigeons that crowd near the edge of their cage – some even wrapping their feet around the wire walls – and bob their heads in the grain.

Another 50 or so coo from their wooden perches lining the bird loft that looks like a narrow garden shed with perfectly aligned aluminum siding.

Steen, a burly man with an eagle tattooed on his left arm, is as gentle as a butterfly with the birds.

“There’s my baby,” he says stroking a slender, creamy gray bird with white markings. “If I walk in there, she’ll land on my shoulder. If I hold her and rub her, she’ll close her eyes. … She’s a good bird.”

Steen started raising and racing homing pigeons two years ago, following the path of an ancient sport that survives with 21st-century technology.

At 33 years old, he likely is the youngest member of the Tacoma Racing Pigeon Club – and the club is glad to have him.

Club membership has fluctuated through the decades since its founding in the 1930s, and it’s now down to about 20 active members, said club President Jim Novak of Spanaway.

While many of the members are senior citizens, “we’re getting quite a few younger people now. They can’t afford to buy fancy boats. It’s a family thing for them and their kids,” Novak said.

Nationwide, the sport seems to be gradually growing, Novak said. It’s as big as soccer in Europe and booming in Asia, where enthusiasts gamble on races.

Pigeon races around South Sound typically attract 90 to 100 owners and their birds. The Tacoma group meets monthly at the clubhouse at 2919 S. Warner St., built by U.S. Army Signal Corps veterans and other members in the 1940s, Novak said.

“It was after they came back from World War II,” said Novak, who’s been raising and racing pigeons for 60 of his 72 years. “Most of them had birds before they went over, and had experience in it.”

Pigeons played a crucial role delivering messages to troops during the first and second World Wars. The most famous pigeon, Cher Ami, won a French medal for delivering key messages that saved U.S. soldier lives. The last message he delivered was hanging in a capsule from a ligament in his shattered leg.

South Sound birders typically pay a truck driver to drive their pigeons as a group to a drop-off point elsewhere in the state, Oregon or California, Novak said. Birds are released at the same time and fly back to their owner’s loft.

Each is registered with a national pigeon association and carries a GPS chip on its leg band. Electronic monitors record the time they begin the race.

When they arrive at their home loft, a special landing pad scans their return time.

Owners take a small computer module that records the data to their club, where it’s downloaded and compared with other competitors.

The winning bird is determined by calculating the fastest flight time in yards per minute, down to the second.

In human terms, the average speed for a pigeon is 40 to 50 miles an hour, depending on the conditions, Novak said. He’s had birds released 500 miles away in California at 6 a.m. return to Spanaway as early as 5:30 that afternoon or as late as the next morning.

“They fly straight through, unless it’s really hot,” Novak said. “People have seen them fly over a lake and scoop water to drink and keep flying.”

Yet there’s still mystery to their amazing feat. Scientists aren’t certain how they navigate hundreds or thousands of miles from an unfamiliar destination to their home. Some think it has to do with the sun, the weather and magnetic poles.

Perhaps not so ironically, it was a pigeon who found Steen and ignited his love for the sport.

Two years ago, he found a roller pigeon, a bird that zooms into the air and instinctively tumbles down, then suddenly pulls straight into flight. There are competitions for those birds, too, based on how they tumble.

Steen decided to keep the bird and placed him in a pet carrier. He called him Pete after a neighbor who raised pigeons when Steen was growing up.

His two boys, Ethan, 4, and Tyler, 9, were more than eager to keep the bird. But Steen’s wife, Kari?

“I said no, we’re not having pigeons,” she recalled, “and I let it (the pigeon) go.”

But when Steen returned from his job repairing surgical instruments that day, he found the pigeon in its carrier outside the house – as if Pigeon Pete was waiting for him.

Kari Steen relented – and adjusted.

“It keeps him busy,” she said smiling. “It keeps him at home.”

Steen has spent the past two years gobbling up as much pigeon knowledge as he can from club members and pigeon magazines. Club members have given him birds, he’s purchased a couple others and he’s figured out how to breed them. Friends helped him build the birds’ 8-by-16-foot loft.

He learned how to use feed to teach them to come when he whistles. He also learned how the waddle on top of their beak signifies wellness if it’s white, and illness if it’s dark.

And Steen has discovered how the birds fly for the highest perch, how they love raw, unsalted peanuts, and how protective they are of their eggs and babies.

He and his two sons have learned how to train the young birds by releasing them in Roy or Yelm and seeing if the birds will beat them home to Tacoma . . .  His beloved birds have let him experience the thrill of victory: three of his birds have won first place at the club level.

“There’s nothing like knowing they’re in Oregon or California and then watching them come home. They tuck their wings back and then come diving in,” Steen said. “They’re a lot of fun.”

Get started: To learn more about the Tacoma Racing Pigeon Club, go to . . .

Monday, September 21, 2009

Youth And Pigeons

Rich Ross races as an individual member of the AU, in Michigan, under Blue Diamond Family Lofts.  He told us about his recent experience sharing his sport with youth.

 - Our church was having a General Assembly where ministers and their families from all over the country were coming to Michigan for special seminars. I got a call from the church asking if I could talk about racing pigeons and do a release for the kids ages 5 to 8 years. 

We set the date to talk to the kids and then do a release at the Tanger Mall in Howell. I had my grandson, Caden Flanery (8 years old), who took 1st place in the AU Youth Race in 2007 help me set up for the release, as well as Judy my bride of 43 years.

The day of the release started out to be a beautiful sunshine Michigan day. Only thing was we had 15 -20 mile SW winds which would blow the birds away from the loft. These were young birds and had been to this location 4 times and I was confident we would have a good release.

During the bus ride to the Mall, the kids watched the video “Marathon of the Sky” and came off the bus very excited.  The bus arrived around 2:30 and we had 2 baskets full of birds ready to go. As the kids and their chaperones gathered around, I told the kids how God had made these magnificent birds and they can fly for hundreds of miles and still find the way back to the loft. Then I asked who wants to hold and release some birds.  All the hands went up. Even the adults that were chaperoning had their hands up saying “Can we release them too?”

Each kid had a chance to hold and release a bird and then the adults did that too. I rode back on the bus with the kids to my loft, while Judy stayed back to release the other basket of birds. We got down the road about 2 or 3 miles when dark clouds came in and we started to see a few raindrops. I called back to Judy and asked her how the weather was and she said a little overcast but it was good.

I started to get a little concerned because the sky was getting a little darker and in Michigan the weather can change in 10 minutes. I thought a storm was coming in from the west.  When we were a mile from the house I told Judy to release the birds. As I pulled into my driveway the skies opened up and it was raining so hard you could just about see my house.  I called Judy back to hold the birds and she said its too late the birds are up. She got a block away from the mall and it started raining.

I ushered the kids into the garage to keep them dry but they wanted to stay in the rain under the eaves on the deck to wait for the birds to come back. One of the little kids said to me “Do pigeons fly in the rain?” I said a little prayer and said boy I hope so. After about ½ hour that seemed like eternity one young bird came in and a little later, the other birds started arriving.  Seems the older, more experienced birds, flew around the rain, while the younger ones flew right through it.  Only 2 birds stayed out overnight and came in the next day.  God does answer prayers. -

Friday, September 18, 2009

School Pigeon Project

     The new school group in Oklahoma recently got started with their loft project. At the Keystone Adventure School And Farm, the students take care of animals that live at the school.

     They had a loft christening combined with a book reading. A recently completed children’s book, “Emma Doesn’t Want To Race Today!” is a story about a homing pigeon named Emma that prefers to sightsee along Route 66 rather than race. Local author, Dr. Hall Duncan, takes the reader along on the trip with Emma sharing tidbits of educational information about the various stops along the route. Emma is named after Dr. Duncan’s real life granddaughter.

     The school decorated the halls with “welcome” drawings to greet Dr. Duncan upon his arrival for the reading. The school, Dr. Duncan, and the American Racing Pigeon Union worked together to have a reading and bird release to initiate the loft project at the school.

     Dr. Duncan read through the book, enlisting participation from students. Emma, Dr. Duncan’s granddaughter, joined him to assist with the christening.

     When the reading was finished, Mr. Jim Steele did a presentation and explained the bird’s body and how the bird races. For fun the class decided to send a message to the world, attached to the release pigeon, so when the pigeon Emma arrived at the loft, the message could be passed on.

     Everyone went outside to take part in the bird release. Mr. Steele showed a few of the students how to hold the pigeons, and then on the count of three, the pigeons were released, including Emma, with the message.

     The fifth grade class made a treat for everyone to share after the christening was completed. The “pigeon poop” candy was a hit with everyone.

     The school wants to be sure to thank everyone that contributed to the beginning of a fun project. Mr. Steele donated birds and did a presentation to start off the project. Mr. Bill Barger, the AU Pacific Zone Director, donated birds and the World of Wings donated birds. The AU provided lots of handouts and study materials from the School Information Pack.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The American Racing Pigeon Union is a leader in racing protection and promotion. Improving public awareness about quality care and practice for successful and enjoyable racing is key in protecting the right to race. Misinformation has the potential to diminish the right to race. Misinformation can grow through various channels of animal hobbies.

Legislation pertaining to pets can affect racing rights. If you are curious about legislation in your area, check out PIJAC Pet Alert to stay informed.

A development with a dog kennel in Idaho is something to note. Reclassification of animals could very well be far reaching – as far reaching as the homing pigeons.

Another way to stay informed with regard to specific subjects is to create alerts via the legislation tracking web site

Thursday, September 10, 2009


News from the Independent Homing Club out of Ohio. IHC's Secretary, Joseph Rosticil reports:

On July 25, 2009 the Independent Homing Club held their 2nd Annual Family Picnic at the Club Headquarters in Columbia Station, Ohio. We had 19 Members and their families present. A total of 53 people.

Everyone had a great time, with plenty of food and beverages. We had games for the children and plenty of prizes for the raffles.

I would like to thank everyone who donated. The Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers , The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, The Cuyahoga County Fair, The Ohio State Fair, The Pro Football Hall of Fame, Bob Evans Restaurants, Foy's Pigeon Supply, Siegels Pigeon Supply and all the members who brought raffle prizes. A big THANK YOU, to Holly and Fred Wright for running the kids games and to all the people who gave a hand in the set up and clean up. Were looking forward to next year. I would like to give a SPECIAL THANK YOU to my wife Darlene Rostocil for being such a big help with everything I do. Don't forget we are planning on having a Clam Bake this fall.

Thank you to John Froelich for bringing the World of Wings Trailer and Display from Oklahoma. The Trailer was a big hit with everyone.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Here is an entertaining twist - but then, we've always known Homing Pigeons are amazing birds.
Firm enlists Winston the homing pigeon to transfer data - because he's faster than broadband

Several papers have picked this up, but we saw this one on Daily Mail.

A company is to start using a carrier pigeon to transfer data between its offices - because bosses believe it will be quicker than broadband.

IT experts at a firm in South Africa said it takes up to six hours to transfer four gigabytes of encrypted data between two of its offices which lie 50 miles apart.

Today staff at the financial services company will save valuable time by instead having the information transported by a homing pigeon named Winston.

Workers will attach a memory card containing the data to bird's leg and let nature take its course.Experts believe the specially-trained 11-month-old pigeon will complete the flight in just 45 minutes - and at a fraction of the cost.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Congratulations goes to Jerry Markel (Skipper's Loft) for winning the Red Bluff Club race flown on August 30, 2009.  Looks like it was a nice, sunny day in California.  Here are the top 20 of the race!

Red Bluff includes a 4-H based group of kids that are rockin' the racing pigeon world!  Rock on Red Bluff!

This group has been excited to share their progress so to encourage others.  Take a look at the loft design they have shared.